After years of complaints from local businesses, many who are no longer in business, and countless residents, Dearborn will end user-paid parking for the parking decks and surface lots in west Dearborn on Tuesday, March 24.
It isn’t clear what this move will cost the city, but it could be a positive change for west Dearborn.
What taxpayers have had to shell out for parking booths, meters (the installation and removal) isn’t quite clear yet but there is a big cost. Between now and March 24 paid meters, including the majority on the streets, will have been removed. As of March 15, the lots with attendants will be free and the gates will be open.
However, Dearborn officials says that if drivers park at a spot with a meter at any time, they must still pay the meter or face a fine.
About 40 meters along Mason, Howard, and West Village Drive will remain after March 24 to encourage customer turnover. These spots are among the most convenient parking spaces to nearby businesses.
Parking restrictions will still be enforced at the meters on the three streets. Meters will remain along Howard, from West Village Drive to Garrison; Mason, from West Village Drive to Michigan Avenue; and West Village Drive, along Mason to Howard.
The City of Dearborn has transitioned away from a user-paid parking system in the west downtown business district to promote greater interest from real estate developers and to boost customer activity.
Dearborn officials say the de-commissioning of the user-paid parking system “addresses the perception that paid parking is an obstacle to redevelopment.
“It also addresses a popular sentiment that paying for parking in public lots, decks and on-street spaces discourages customers who would otherwise patronize west Dearborn businesses,” the city of Dearborn said in a prepared press release.
The City Council voted on Oct. 21 to phase out the user-paid system, based on a recommendation from the Mayor and the Parking Advisory Commission.
Mayor John B. O’Reilly, Jr. stated in advocating the change:
“This is a very positive step that will help us achieve our goal of promoting more investment and activity in the west downtown. To get the best results for our local economy, we need to be realistic and remove anything that is perceived as an impediment to recreating a robust and vibrant business district.”
The public parking system will continue to be financed with money from the West Dearborn Downtown Development Authority (WDDDA) and the City’s general fund at a lesser amount than in previous years.
The City is also discussing the re-instatement of a Special Assessment District (SAD) to cover the operational costs of the parking system since someone has to cover the cost of the two large parking decks.
Under an SAD, which is a public version of a Common Area Maintenance (CAM) charge implemented at private malls and multi-client centers, businesses that use the public parking spaces will be required to pay for their upkeep, insurance and snow removal, but not infrastructure improvements.
The boundaries of the SAD and the cost allocation assigned to each business would be determined at public hearings before the City Council.
In conjunction with new businesses opening this spring, the WDDDA will launch a marketing campaign promoting the downtown district, including the end of almost all user-paid parking spots.